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Bible Dictionaries

Vine's Expository Dictionary of OT Words

Anoint

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A. Verb.

Mâshach (מָשַׁח, Strong's #4886), “to anoint, smear, consecrate.” A common word in both ancient and modern Hebrew, mâshach is also found in ancient Ugaritic. It occurs approximately 70 times in the Hebrew Old Testament. The word is found for the first time in the Old Testament in Gen. 31:13: “… where thou anointedst the pillar, and … vowedst a vow unto me …” This use illustrates the idea of anointing something or someone as an act of consecration. The basic meaning of the word, however, is simply to “smear” something on an object. Usually oil is involved, but it could be other substances, such as paint or dye (cf. Jer. 22:14). The expression “anoint the shield” in Isa. 21:5 probably has more to do with lubrication than consecration in that context. When unleavened bread is “tempered with oil” in Exod. 29:2, it is basically equivalent to our act of buttering bread. The Old Testament most commonly uses mâshach to indicate “anointing” in the sense of a special setting apart for an office or function. Thus, Elisha was “anointed” to be a prophet (1 Kings 19:16). More typically, kings were “anointed” for their office (1 Sam. 16:12; 1 Kings 1:39). Vessels used in the worship at the sacred shrine (both tabernacle and temple) were consecrated for use by “anointing” them (Exod. 29:36; 30:26; 40:9-10). In fact, the recipe for the formulation of this “holy anointing oil” is given in detail in Exod. 30:22-25.

B. Noun.

Mâshı̂yach (מָשִׁיחַ, Strong's #4899), “anointed one.” A word that is important both to Old Testament and New Testament understandings is the noun mâshı̂yach, which gives us the term messiah. As is true of the verb, mâshı̂yach implies an anointing for a special office or function. Thus, David refused to harm Saul because Saul was “the Lord’s anointed” (1 Sam. 24:6). The Psalms often express the messianic ideals attached to the Davidic line by using the phrase “the Lord’s anointed” (Ps. 2:2; 18:50; 89:38, 51). Interestingly enough, the only person named “messiah” in the Old Testament was Cyrus, the pagan king of Persia, who was commissioned by God to restore Judah to her homeland after the Exile (Isa. 45:1). The anointing in this instance was more figurative than literal, since Cyrus was not aware that he was being set apart for such a divine purpose. The New Testament title of Christ is derived from the Greek Christos which is exactly equivalent to the Hebrew mâshı̂yach for it is also rooted in the idea of “to smear with oil.” So the term Christ emphasizes the special anointing of Jesus of Nazareth for His role as God’s chosen one.

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Bibliography Information
Vines, W. E., M. A. Entry for 'Anoint'. Vine's Expository Dictionary of OT Words. https://www.studylight.org/dictionaries/eng/vot/a/anoint.html. 1940.

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